Continued from A Realm Beyond Comprehension and a Shortish List...
Beaky after all. Where has that dratted bird got to?!"
It had been unnervingly quiet here recently. Beaky, my terrifying - and extremely annoying - blackbird familiar, had seemingly vanished from the expansive grounds of Hexenhäusli Device, but my survival instinct had yet to dial itself down. Brushing the muck and bits of rose bush off myself, and sucking on a couple of thorn-inflicted scratches, I headed across the paysho and into my gingerbread mansion to see if the
postman postwoman had been.
"Oh, it's just another cease-and-desist letter from RHS Rosemoor. They've obviously got the wrong person as I've never even been to- Hang on..." But this one contained something that the other three hadn't: a still image seemingly taken from a security camera video - and it didn't paint a pretty picture. Lurking amongst the azaleas was a witch. Or, more accurately, someone dressed as a witch. And rather craply, too, with a parsnip for a nose, and an old measuring funnel for a hat. "That's not me! My nose doesn't look like that!"
Well, depending on the light...
Oh, shut up!
I squinted at the photo for some time until, eventually, I relented with a 'hummmph!' and grudgingly went to fetch my reading glasses in order to make out the details.
"Aha!" (No, not that one) "Got you!"
I bundled up all my paraphernalia - including Hat, Cloak, and Broom -
"Bugger this. I'm going in the back way."
No change there, then.
Picking my way through a garden which was mostly ferns and mud, I came across a small two-storey outbuilding from which a distinctive female voice could be heard.
What's she saying?
"I don't know?! I'm using the same pair of ears that you are!"
Well, get closer then!
As the voice seemed to be coming from the upper level, I sat side-saddle on Broom and levitated up to the only window in order to peer in. The bottom half of the window, however, was filthy, so I urged Broom higher so I could see through the less grimy top panes.
|Dramatisation: May not have happened (like this, anyway)|
"...only one thing I could do in the face of such terrorism, I passed out, hitting my head on my desk as I slowly slumped to the floor."
"Wake up, Ms Scarlet!"
Bonk! "Ooh, my head" Ms Scarlet moaned as she clonked it again on the way up. "Bloodytwattingdesk... What's going on? Who are you? How did you get in? ... Mr Devine?!?"
"None other" I said proffering my hand to help Ms Scarlet to her feet, and then back into her chair, all the while being careful to avoid haphazardly placed gold embellished calligraphy, bottles filled with suspect items, arcane maps, elderly Pot Noodles, a measuring funnel, and a rather shrivelled parsnip. "As for what's going on, I was about to ask you the same thing!"
Ms Scarlet had the decency to look mildly ashamed at the photograph I was waving in her face. "Would you believe a fancy dress party?"
Before I could answer, a faint clinking of glass caught my ear and I turned towards the sound. In a cardboard box containing three empty bottles, one of them was rocking slightly having just been disturbed. I wasn't the only one who heard the sound though...
A large, irridescent bubble floated through the open top of the window and into the centre of the room where it began to swell and grow.
"What's going on? What's that?" Ms Scarlet asked.
"I'm not sure, but I'm having a funny feeling."
"Oh, that's just Sid sniffing your ankles. You must have left the door open downstairs and he crept in. Didn't you, Sid? Didn't you?! Who's a good boy?!"
"Woof" said Sid wagging his tail happily.
"No, it's not Sid - but you are a good boy, aren't you?" I said crouching to make a fuss of Ms Scarlet's little Jack Russell. "The feeling's more like déjà vu-"
g l i n g l e g l i n g l e
P O O F !
Suddenly the bubble popped and Dinahmow appeared looking around intently.
"Did I hear a bottle being opened?" she asked fishing a wine glass out of her handbag.
"Ah, that's what it is." I muttered.
"Dinah! What are you- How did you-?"
"Oh, I kept hold of this" and she waved a large, sparkling wand in our faces as she peered at Ms Scarlet's list "from that Emerald Elf Shorts debacle two or three years back. Now, about your list, I have an embarrassing collection of bottles in my bin. I’d be happy to send them, but you’ll have to speak up sharpish as it’s bin day today - AKA the Day of Great Embarrassment When Dinah’s Bin is Emptied. Hello, by the way."
"Oh!" Ms Scarlet managed, more than slightly startled. "Oh, hello, yes, thank you. Yes, some more bottles will be lovely!"
"Oh, good! Bin Day will be less humiliating this week, then. I'll get Muriel to retrieve them, give 'em a wash and have them ready to be sent over. Did you get that, Muriel?" Dinah shouted into the haze where the bubble had popped. A muffled affirmation came back followed by noises of industrious activity.
"I just hope people are still interested in my messages in bottles."
A distant and disembodied voice raised over the deafening background clinking and clanking of Dinah’s bottle bin being emptied intoned:
We all looked around in confusion before Dinah poked her head into the bubble haze "Was that you, Muriel?" The answer was unheard by us, but it must have been 'No' because Dinah straightened up and shook her head.
|Actual footage of IDV's faint|
screamed cried howled, the blood rushing from my head and my legs giving way.
"My drapes!" Ms Scarlet lamented.
"Doesn't he scream like a girl?" a new voice observed.
To be continued...